By Donna Abemayor
The Chappaqua Central School District has approved the development of an illuminated turf field at Horace Greeley High School. Chappaqua will now have a sports field that can be utilized for field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and football. This illuminated field will also provide an outdoor practice site for baseball and and softball. High school teams that would normally have to practice indoors in the early spring will have the opportunity to practice under the outdoor lights.
Most of the communities in Westchester County have developed turf fields in an effort to promote athletic development for their youth population. The towns of Rye and Harrison acquired private funds to develop their turf fields. Other towns like Yorktown Heights, Somers and Brewster have used public funds. With the current school budgetary constraints in Chappaqua, fundraising is under way to secure private funds. The U.S. Soccer foundation grant which can award school districts up to $200,000 will also be considered as a source of revenue.
The development of a turf field in Chappaqua will allow more flexibility in scheduling youth and high school athletic games. In addition, games and practices can be held well into the evening and there is less of a chance of games being cancelled due to wet fields. According to Jim Nottingham, President of the Sports Boosters
for the Chappaqua Central School District, Sports Booster’s mission of promoting, excellence in character, academics, and athletics will be supported through the development of the turf field. The Sports Boosters is a district-wide holding company for all school sports. It is a non-profit organization that formed a partnership last July, with the Chappaqua Turf Committee (TC2).
According to Jonathan David, a member of the Chappaqua Turf Committee, the development of a turf field in Chappaqua will be a great asset to the community as well as savings to the school district. “The maintenance of the artificial fields is far less than a grass field and more durable. There is a savings of approximately $30,000-$40,000 per year.” With the increasing youth sports population, the natural surface has worn down.” Nottingham also notes the advantage of playing less “out of district” games which is not only good for team spirit, but a savings to the school district as well. David and Nottingham also note that the development of this field will bring a greater sense of community spirit. The idea of a Friday night high school football game will now be a reality.
There is some community opposition to this project surrounding the environmental impact of having a turf field in this community.* Many of these artificial turf fields are supported by recycled rubber material, making some skeptical. The artificial turf field that will be developed at Greeley will not be made with this recycled rubber, but with rubber fill that hasn’t been used. For further information about health and safety concerns, please visit www. chappaquaturf.org. Neighborhood residents are also concerned about the impact of the lights. Nottingham reports the lights will be “zero-spill” which is better for the homes in the vicinity of Greeley.
The turf project which has been approved by the school district is being reviewed by the New York State Education Department. Construction is planned for summer 2012.
Donna Abemayor is a Chappaqua resident and frequent contributor to Inside Chappaqua.
Editor’s Note: See here for concerns and questions about the environmental impact surrounding artificial turf, according to Dr. Susan Rubin.